Sue’s March Recommendation

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

storied life of aj fikrySue says:  “What book lover could resist a store about an independent book store owner with a quirky name?  A.J. Fikry is a reclusive 39-year-old widow who filters his life through the lens of his favorite books.  When a sweet toddler unexpectedly enters his life, he is forced to open his heart and his world.  This is a feel good book, with a great cast of eccentric secondary characters.  It was gentle, sweet, safe, and predictable—a nice easy read for a dreary, gray March weekend.”

Does this sound interesting?  Click here for a sample!

3 Similar Reads

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff – “It all began with a letter inquiring about second-hand books, written by Helene Hanff in New York, and posted to a bookshop at 84, Charing Cross Road in London.  As Helene’s sarcastic and witty letters are responded to by the stodgy and proper Frank Doel of 84, Charing Cross Road, a relationship blossoms into a warm and charming long-distance friendship lasting many years.” – Summary from publisher

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman – “Henry Archer is a comfortably well-off and recently retired lawyer who has been divorced for decades.  When his ex-wife reenters his life, she brings with her the entanglements of her daughter, Thalia, the stepchild Henry loved and lost during the divorce.  Determined to reforge a connection with the now grown Thalia, Henry soon becomes embroiled in a much larger life than he expected.” – Library Journal

The Bad Book Affair by Ian Sansom – “Israel Armstrong lends the library’s copy of American Pastoral to a troubled teenage girl and soon she disappears.  Israel thinks there may be a connection, but he needs figure out what it is and find the girl, all while dealing with the trauma of a breakup and his impending 30th birthday.” – Summary from catalog

Pat’s February Recommendations

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor AND Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

my beloved world“I am presently reading Sonia Sotomayor’s My Beloved World and enjoying it to no end.  It is good to read about this woman who came from poverty and discrimination to become a Justice in our Supreme Court.  She tells of her alcoholic father, her devoted but overburdened mother and of the refuge she took in the home or her grandmother….I also just read Mortality…Christopher Hitchens’ last little tome.  Since mortality is on my mind these days, I wanted to see where he was going with this, as he was a confirmed atheist…and since I have read his other books and am his fan!”

Read about or request My Beloved World and Mortality from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads for My Beloved World (Nonfiction)

Lazy B by Sandra Day O’Connor

Young Thurgood by Larry S. Gibson

The Nine by Jeffrey Toobin

3 Similar Reads for Mortality  (Nonfiction)

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

Enjoy Every Sandwich by Lee Lipsenthal

Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes

Dorothy’s February Recommendation

In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh

in the castles of the flynnsDorothy says that this is “A funny, poignant, bildungsroman about an 8-year-old orphan raised by his Chicago Irish extended family, grandparents, bachelor uncles, and the obligatory nun”.  Here is a partial review from Book List: “The McCourt brothers can move over.  The Chicago branch of the Irish mafia weighs in with a hilarious rendition of an Irish Catholic childhood, circa 1955…his [Raleigh’s] familiar, superior sense of place is here, but he adds an orphan, a family burdened by the love of drink and blessed with the gift of gab, a beautiful and brilliant nun, and a charismatic, slightly dangerous uncle”.

Read about or request this book from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Caramelo by Sandra Cisneros

When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt

Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs

All Souls: A Family Story from Southie by Michael Patrick MacDonald

Rebecca’s January Recommendation

May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes

may we be forgiven“This novel is a very dark tragicomedy centering around a family in the setting of New York’s Westchester County.  While the events that take place over this 480 page novel occur in a single year, they can only be described as absurdly epic.  To any readers interested in this novel, be warned: many awful events happen in the first hundred pages, and it is hard to find any sympathy for the people the events happen to.  However, A.M. Homes’s combination of humor, pathos, wit, and belief in human redemption make a wonderfully told story about a group of people struggling to be heard and understood in modern society.  The Book List Review does a great job summing up the heart of this book: ‘In this frenetic, insightful, and complexly moral novel of a man transformed by crisis, Homes dramatizes hubris and greed, alienation and spirituality, improvised families, and justice in our age of smart phones, dumbed-down education, and bankrupt culture.'”

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

Women by Charles Bukowski

The Family Markowitz by Allegra Goodman

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

Who Stole the American Dream? by Hedrick Smith

When Did I Get Like This? by Amy Wilson

Cool, Calm, and Contentious by Merrill Markoe

Rebecca’s December Recommendation

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

This debut novel depicts the end of the world through the eyes of Julia, a 12-year-old girl living in California.  The apocalypse is not caused by plague or war, but by the age of miraclesgradual slowing of the Earth’s rotation.  Walker’s melancholy and spare writing make this “end of the world event” even scarier than the former options.  Julia’s realization that the world is coming to an end is slow, which I believe makes for a very realistic story.  However, while I love all novels the depict the apocalypse in some way, this is not the reason why I ultimately loved this one.  For me, the best part of the novel was how Walker told a brilliant coming of age story through the character of Julia; despite, or maybe because of, the apocalypse, the themes of love, puberty, and family were told poignantly and with great emotional depth.  This novel will appeal to lovers of lyrical writing, well-developed characters, and deliberate storytelling.  The coming of age story also makes for a great young adult/teen crossover.

Read about or request Age of Miracles from the online catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Mara and Dann: An Adventure by Doris Lessing

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Weather Makers by Tim F. Flannery

On Thin Ice by Richard Ellis

Annals of the Former World by John McPhee

Laona’s December Recommendation

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

“I just finished reading Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan.  It was a great story about the intersection of old school (i.e. printing presses, print books, and literature) and new school (Google and the internet, iPads, and all things technology).  mr. penumbra'sThe Economist says: “Robin Sloan cleverly combines the antiquated world of bibliophilia with the pulsating age of digital technology, finding curiosity and joy in both.  He makes bits and bytes appear beautiful…the rebels’ journey to crack the code–grappling with an ancient cult, using secret passwords and hidden doorways–will excite anyone’s inner child.  But this is no fantasy yarn. Mr. Sloan tethers his story to a weird reality, striking a comical balance between eccentric and normal…The Pages swell with Mr. Sloan’s nerdy affection and youthful enthusiasm for both tangible books and new media.  Clay’s chatty narration maintains the pace and Mr. Sloan injects dry wit and comedic timing suited to his geeky everyman…A clever and whimsical tale with a big heart”.

Read about or request this book from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore

Year Zero by Rob Reid

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Google Story by David A. Vise

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis

The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil

Weekly Spotlight On…Great Reads for Halloween!

Looking for a good book to put you in the Halloween spirit?  Then you’re in the right place!  Check out this list of scare-tastic horror reads that contain chills (and thrills)–guaranteed!  Whether you’re a fan of the good old fashioned ghost story, supernatural creature freatures, psychological horror, or just plain old gore, you can find something you’ll love on this list!  Again, this list is by no means comprehensive, so I’ve provided you with a few links to some great lists around the internet as well.  Also, don’t forget our subscription reader’s advisory database NoveList that you can access for FREE with your library card.  Enjoy!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Enjoy “this classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre.  First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror.  It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House….At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own”.

A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

In this novel, “the incomparable master of horror and suspense” tells the tale of the Spenser Mallon, a charismative and cunning campus guru in the 1960s, attracting the devotion and demanding sexual favors of his young acolytes.  After he invites his most fervent followers to attend a secret ritual in a local meadow, the only thing that remains is a gruesomely dismembered body…

The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell

From another master of contemporary horror: “A former professor offers film critic Simon the chance of a lifetime–to write a book on one of the greatest long-lost comedians of the silent-film era, Tubby Thackeray.  Simon is determined to find out the truth behind the jolly fat man’s disappearance from film–and from the world.”

Hemlock Grove, or, The Wise Wolf by Brian McGreevy

This new release is “an epic, original reinvention of the Gothic novel, taking the characters of our greatest novels, myths, and nightmares–the werewolf, the vampire, Frankenstein–and reimagining them for our time”.

Infected by Scott Sigler

In this cross between sci-fi and horror, CIA operative Dew Phillips works together with CDC epidemiologist Margaret Montoya in a race to stop the spread of a mysterious disease that is turning ordinary people into murderers.  A former football player who has become infected with the deadly bioengineered parasite may carry the cure.  A great, fast-paced read for fans of books about the viral apocalypse.

Haunted: A Novel of Stories by Chuck Palahniuk

Like the title implies, Haunted is indeed a novel of twenty three stories, twenty-three of the most horrifying, hilarious, mind-blowing, stomach churning tales you’ll ever encounter–sometimes all at once.  The stories are told by people who have answered an ad headlined “Writers’ Retreat: Abandon Your Life for Three Months”, and who are led to believe that here they will leave hind all the distractions of ‘real life’ that are keeping them from creating the masterpiece that is in them.  Drawing from the literary tradition of the Villa Diodati (the event that led to the creation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein), this gore fest is definitely not for the faint of heart but is sure to entertain.

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

The classic horror story from Ira Levin (the movie directed by Roman Polanski is equally creepy).  Whe Rosemary’s Baby was first published in 1967, Ira Levin’s masterpiece gave horror an innocent new face.  It caused a worldwide sensation, found fear where we never thought to look before, and dared to bring it into the sunlight.  Do you dare to discover what all the fuss is about?

Pretty much anything by Stephen King, but if you’re new to the author, try Carrie, Salem’s Lot, or The Shining.  Stephen King is often called the master of horror fiction, and rightfully so.  His unique and powerful narrative voice never fails to connect with, and then terrify, the reader.  King is all about telling a story, and none of his stories disappoint.  These are three of his earlier classics, and are great for King newcomers.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

This literary, postmodern, and stylistic horror novel is hard to describe, but many have called it the most terrifying thing they have ever read.  Here is a great review from Book List: “This stunning first effort is destined for fast-track cult status.  A photographers decides to create a film document of his family moving into a new home.  The project runs smoothly until the interior dimensions of the house turn out to be larger than the exterior. Over time, a maze of passageways appear and disappear, perhaps inhabited by an unseen malevolent creature”.  I stumbled across a review that said this book is as is Nabokov wrote the book version of The Blair Witch Project.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Robert Neville may well be the last living man on Earth…but he is not alone.  An incurable plague has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.  By day, he is a hunter, stalking the infected monstrosities through the abandoned ruins of civilization.  By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for dawn…

Want more? Check out these links…

FlavorWire’s List of 10 of the Creepiest Ghosts in Literature

Complex.com’s List of the 25 Best Horror Novels of the New Millennium

Charlie Higson’s Top Ten Horror Books @ The Guardian

Try horrorstew.com for all things horror as well! Happy reading!